Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does Having Health Insurance Make You Feel Risky?

Nancy Pelosi on This Week, talking to Elizabeth Vargas:
And by the way, the health care bill is a jobs bill. It will create four million new jobs, several hundred thousand immediately upon enactment. And it will also encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in our country where people can take risks and be entrepreneurial because they know they have health care.
Are we to assume all those people with health insurance now are just not taking advantage of the entrepreneurial options that having health care gives them?

If you have health care right now, do you feel that "entrepreneurial spirit"? Do you feel like taking risks?

Just askin'.

Republicans Need a Rollback Plan

Andy McCarthy's post at The Corner yesterday regarding health care reform is required reading. It's a subject a lot of people are sick to death of by now, especially after the televised summit last week, but McCarthy has a different perspective on where the Democrats might be headed from here and it's one I've totally been forecasting for some time now.

They clearly don't care about public opinion. The voters have made clear for months now that they are opposed to this plan. There are elements in it that people like and want, but many that they don't. But the Democrats don't care. Their strategy at this point is to ram it through no matter the costs (in both dollars and votes) and let the chips fall where they may.

McCarthy writes:
The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitability of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership's statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work.
Pelosi is digging in. In a fundraising email she talks of "resolve" and says "history is within our reach." She tells the Sunday talk shows that she will have the 217 votes needed in the house to pass this monstrosity, even with the Senate's abortion language.

For McCarthy, it's clear that they will risk everything to get it through:
In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections.
So how do you combat something like this? It's like the kamikaze pilots in World War II or the suicide bombers of today. They don't care what the cost, even if it's their own lives, the mission must be accomplished.

What Republicans need to do is start figuring out a way to roll this thing back once they return to power. I'm not saying give up the fight on stopping the health care bill, but have a plan for the future. McCarthy asks:
At the end of the summit debacle, President Obama put the best face on a bad day by indicating that he intended to push ahead with socialized medicine and face the electoral consequences ("that's what elections are for," he concluded). He's right about that. For Republicans, it won't be enough to fight this thing, then deride it if Democrats pull it off, and finally coast to a very likely electoral victory in November. The question is: What are you going to do to roll this back? What is your plan to undo this?
I'm wondering how much the next president is going to whine and moan about what he inherited from this one.

(AP Photo)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The "In My Shell" Edition

We've got another beautiful Saturday here, a little chilly, but gorgeous. It was a rough week for me with all kinds of things going on, incoming flak from all fronts, and "fires to put out" as they say, so I'm really just feeling the need to curl up on the couch with a stack of old movies or a good book and be very quiet. Seems like a good day to just crawl into my shell and hide for a day or so. Which is where I'm going now. Meanwhile, click on the links.

SWAC Girl has some fun blogging facts. Except now I feel so insignificant. But she has snow pictures, too, so it's all good.

Doug Ross has a great report on the card check bill.

Pundette wonders what happens if Obamacare passes and quotes Andy McCarthy who is dead on. Bob Belvedere has a great round up on who said what about the summit.

No Sheeples Here has the great photo of Charlie Rangel on the beach, with a tiny bit of her great Photoshop skills thrown in, and questions, GASP!, his ethics. But, you know, Nancy Pelosi is running the "most ethical" congress evah!

Be sure to check out snaggletoothie's round-up of this week's health care summit.

Fishersville Mike is looking forward to baseball season. First he's got to get rid of all that snow!

Bread Upon the Waters reports on Britian's tea-party today.

Frugal Cafe Blog gets impatient with Obama's uhs and uhms but when he starts whining about the car insurance he had in college, that's where we draw the line.

Stop by Potluck to read about "The Coffee Party." It's the anti Tea Party, you know? Another Black Conservative is also on the story. Little Miss Attila hates the name.

Troglopundit is playing with Obamotivators.

Left Coast Rebel is celebrating the fact that Rush Limbaugh reads his blog! Wow! Jealous.

Stacy McCain reminds you that Obamanomics still isn't working.

The White House blog continues to be great fodder for the right; Professor Jacobson sees another day of spin.

What do Obama and Roman Polanski have in common? Carol's Closet can tell you.

Not One Red Cent hammers the nail in Charlie Crist's campaign.

Bride of Rove has live-snarking of the summit...and it's hilarious.

WyBlog posted on the woman who was live tweeting her abortion, a story I tried really hard to ignore, but it looks like lots of people were covering it. No words on this one.

Have a happy Saturday and I'll check you later.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Who Won?

Probably every political blog you look at today has some discussion of yesterday's summit; I was at work and missed the thing except for the tiny part I watched during my lunch break. It was near the beginning - I saw the end of Lamar Alexander's remarks, and then Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Reid.

From reading the various recaps it seems that what was accomplished yesterday is that Harry Reid proved himself mean and ill spirited, Obama is cranky and doesn't like to be challenged, Paul Ryan is brilliant, and the Republicans in general proved that they DO care about health care and DO have ideas, which is what they really needed to do.

But as Jonah Goldberg says, who was really watching? And who was this show really for?

Where do we go from here? Even though Harry Reid says "no one's talked about reconciliation," (a statement which is out and out false), the option is still on the table.

Depending on which side you ask, either the Republicans or the Democrats won. No doubt that Obama won, because he told us so.

Will the Dems go the reconciliation route? Who knows. More kabuki to come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Andy McCarthy Gets My Blood Boiling (UPDATED)

In non-summit related news, Andy McCarthy knows how to get my blood pressure up, and not in a good way. While everyone was busy watching the summit or wondering if Charlie Crist is really going to run as an independent, McCarthy reports on the next chapter of Obama's war on the CIA.

This is typical Obama fashion: distract you with one issue then sneak another in the back door while you aren't looking.

From McCarthy:

While the country and the Congress have their eyes on today’s dog-and-pony show on socialized medicine, House Democrats last night stashed a new provision in the intelligence bill which is to be voted on today. It is an attack on the CIA: the enactment of a criminal statute that would ban “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” (See here, scroll to p. 32.)

The provision is impossibly vague — who knows what “degrading” means? Proponents will say that they have itemized conduct that would trigger the statute (I’ll get to that in a second), but it is not true. The proposal says the conduct reached by the statute “includes but is not limited to” the itemized conduct. (My italics.) That means any interrogation tactic that a prosecutor subjectively believes is “degrading” (e.g., subjecting a Muslim detainee to interrogation by a female CIA officer) could be the basis for indicting a CIA interrogator.

McCarthy suggests that the Democrats waited until after the "politicized witch-hunt against John Yoo and Jay Bybee" concluded because to admit that waterboarding and other tactics were not illegal before would damage that "investigation." We had to "pretend" they were illegal before, but now that the investigation is over, we have to make it offically illegal.


So what does this provision make illegal, exactly? This:

Waterboarding is not all. The Democrats’ bill would prohibit — with a penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment — the following tactics, among others:

- “Exploiting the phobias of the individual”

- Stress positions and the threatened use of force to maintain stress positions

- “Depriving the individual of necessary food, water, sleep, or medical care”

- Forced nudity

- Using military working dogs (i.e., any use of them — not having them attack or menace the individual; just the mere presence of the dog if it might unnerve the detainee and, of course, “exploit his phobias”)

- Coercing the individual to blaspheme or violate his religious beliefs (I wonder if Democrats understand the breadth of seemingly innocuous matters that jihadists take to be violations of their religious beliefs)

- Exposure to “excessive” cold, heat or “cramped confinement” (excessive and cramped are not defined)

- “Prolonged isolation”

- “Placing hoods or sacks over the head of the individual”

Naturally, all of these tactics are interspersed with such acts as forcing the performance of sexual acts, beatings, electric shock, burns, inducing hypothermia or heat injury — as if all these acts were functionally equivalent.

Seriously? You can't "exploit the phobias of the individual"? What if KSM has a phobia of confined spaces? Or of people in uniform?


Prolonged isolation? How long is "prolonged" exactly?


McCarthy concludes with:

Here is the fact: Democrats are saying they would prefer to see tens of thousands of Americans die than to see a KSM subjected to sleep-deprivation or to have his “phobias exploited.” I doubt that this reflects the values of most Americans.
Amen to that.

Update: Thankfully, the bill has now been pulled:

A controversial bill that would have levied criminal punishments on intelligence officers for harsh interrogations was pulled Thursday evening.

House Republicans charged Democrats with trying to sneak a provision into the intelligence authorization bill that would establish criminal punishment for CIA agents and other intelligence officials who engage in “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” during interrogations...

...

Republicans criticized the language and the way it was introduced.

“This will fundamentally change the nature of the intelligence community by creating a criminal statute governing interrogations,” said Rep. Pete Hoesktra (R-Mich.).

He added that it had appeared “out of nowhere” in a manager’s amendment.

“Would someone on the other side please explain the rationale behind this and why the majority was unwilling to have hearings on this issue?" he said.

On Thursday night, Hoekstra lauded the GOP effort against the bill.

"Republicans brought this to the attention of the American people, who were rightly outraged that Democrats would try to target those we ask to serve in harm’s way and with a unified push we were successful in getting them to pull the bill," Hoekstra said in a statement. "The annual intelligence bill should be about protecting and defending our nation, not targeting those we ask to do that deed and giving greater protections to terrorists."

Update: This is now a growing thread at Memeorandum.

Krauthammer on The Summit

Charles Krauthammer from last night's All Stars on the health care summit:

“I think this is not about real compromise or finding a middle way, this is all about theater. It’s a two act production tomorrow six hours long…an Obama production that pits the Children of Light against the Apostles of Nihilism. That’s exactly how he’s staked it out and I think his whole idea is to present an event in which he gets the upper hand or the Republicans produce a sound bite that is embarrassing and it encourages the troops in the House and the Senate because he then has to go into reconciliation which is a tricky maneuver, and a parliamentary maneuver, and which is extremely problematic. Tomorrow is all about theater and after that is real legislation.”

On reconciliation and Biden’s criticism of the Republican power grab when they used reconciliation:

“It’s a three-bank shot. And I think it gets stuck int he House because Pelosi lacks the votes and in the Senate because it allows the Republicans endless amendments, but I want to add one thing: I want to see the text of the prayer that Biden is now offering that Democrats not nakedly grab power. I’d love to have that liturgy so we can all repeat it.”

Good theater coming up!

Random Thoughts for Thursday

Random thoughts for today:

The WSJ has the story on Obama's backup plan should his larger health care initiative fail. It includes things like expansion of current programs and keeping your kids on your policy until they're 26 years old.

The summit starts at 10:00 ET and will run the entire time I'm at school so I'll miss every bit of it. Keep an eye on Potluck - probably somebody over there will be updating things. If you can't watch it, Twitter is usually the fastest way to find out anything, though! I'll have something on it this evening.

Today is Steve's birthday! I can't tell you how old he is, but he's older than he was in this picture, but still just as handsome.

On the reading table, be sure to catch Andy McCarthy's piece at NRO today about Guantanamo. It couldn't be more clear that closing the joint is a lame move.

There's a lively discussion going on at The Shreveport Times in the comments regarding the Hummer deal falling through; Hummers are manufactured here.

Stacy McCain is endorsing J.D. Hayworth over John McCain for Senate and did I mention Stacy and Smitty were featured in GQ and NOT for his Speedo. Seriously. He's even a thread at Potluck, now. God help us.

Off to work now, kids. Check back later.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Treo the Hero Dog!

Heartwarming story of the day via Fox News:

The life-saving skills of a black Labrador have earned him a top medal in the British Army, Sky News reported Wednesday.

Nine-year-old Treo's job is to sniff out roadside bombs in Afghanistan for soldiers, and he has proved rather good at it.

In August, 2008, while working as a forward detection dog in Sangin, Treo found a "daisy chain" improvised explosive device (IED) - made of two or more explosives wired together - that had been carefully modified and concealed by the Taliban at the side of a path.

A month later, his actions saved another platoon from guaranteed casualties, again by finding a daisy chain IED.

Now he is being rewarded with the Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of a Victoria Cross - the highest accolade for a military animal.

Treo retired and is now enjoying life with handler Sergeant Dave Heyhoe back at 104 Military Working Dogs Support Unit, in North Luffenham, Rutland.

Retired, and living a happy dog life!

Video of Treo here.

Video of Treo receiving award here.

Story of the Dickin Medal here.

(AP Photo)

DHS "Loses" 600 Computers and 13 Vehicles

What in the world is going on at the Department of Homeland Security?

Last week Potluck's One Ticked Chick wrote about the DHS "losing" hundreds of firearms. Now we learn from the Washington Examiner that the inability to keep up with their ... stuff... isn't just limited to firearms:

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) lost 1,975 items worth $7.6 million, including nearly 600 computers, dozens of Blackberry phones and 300 pieces of expensive night vision goggles, sights and cameras, each valued at between $1,400 and $18,700. One lost "infrared optical device" was valued at $232,000. The agency lost track of 72 personal radiation detectors valued at about $1,300 each.

Among CBP's roughly 550 "lost" computer items was a Storage Area Network system that had been purchased for $871,236. A similar system, worth only $528,359, was also listed as "lost."

How exactly does one "lose" 600 computers? Dozens of Blackberries? I'm just not sure how that even happens.

From the Independence Institute who obtained the report:
"When I look at these inventories with my own eyes, page after page, I still think there's a good chance that we're dealing with some significant security breaches, and possibly insider theft," said Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute which obtained the documents. Caldara mailed a letter to DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner asking for an investigation into the losses at both component agencies. "You really have to look at these inventories, and go through them page after page to get an idea of how obnoxious these losses are."
The report is titled "Report of Lost, Stolen, Damaged, or Destroyed Property." So I guess some of this stuff could just be damaged or beyond repair, however the report states that thirteen vehicles were "lost" and not located.

How does this happen?

It just fills you with confidence in the government, doesn't it?

Oh, To Be a Fly on the Wall

I so wish I could watch the health care summit at Blair House tomorrow, but alas, work beckons. I suppose I could TIVO it (yes, I'm that big of a nerd) but it would be anticlimactic somehow. It is sure to be great theater, however, and what I really wish is that I could just be a fly on the wall (hiding, not one snapped out of flight and squished) in that room.

Here is the list of those invited:

Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, Majority Leader
Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Republican Leader
Senator Richard Durbin, D-IL, Majority Whip
Senator Jon Kyl, R-AZ, Republican Whip
Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, Chairman of the Finance Committee
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee
Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Christopher Dodd, D-CT, Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA
Representative Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Majority Leader
Representative John Boehner, R-OH, Republican Leader
Representative James Clyburn, D-SC, Majority Whip
Representative Eric Cantor, R-VA, Republican Whip
Representative Charles Rangel, D-NY, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee
Representative Dave Camp, R-MI, Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee
Representative Henry Waxman, D-CA, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative Joe Barton, R-TX, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative George Miller, D-CA, Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee
Representative John Kline, R-MN, Ranking Member of the Education and Labor Committee
Representative John Dingell, D-MI, Chair Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee

Senator John Barasso will also be there as the top Democrat and top Republican leaders were told they could invite four people each, and he was invited by Senator Mike Enzi.

The meeting is tomorrow but the scrapping has already begun. Robert Costa at The Corner reports:
Barrasso says that President Obama and Democrats are “arrogant” for proposing a “more expensive” health-care proposal just days before the summit. Barrasso adds that he remains “fascinated” at how not one “logical thought” has been expressed by Democrats in their summit-prep efforts, and still feels that Obama is unwilling to work with the GOP. “I don’t think [Obama] has been open to Republican ideas,” he says.

And now you've got John Boehner saying, "Hey! Let's invite Bart Stupak, too!"

John McCain plans on attending the meeting and he isn't bringing a positive outlook, either, but instead has a petition going against the Democrats plans:

Tomorrow, President Obama will host a health care reform summit to discuss his proposed overhaul of our health care system. I believe to achieve real reform; we must scrap it and start over. If you agree, I ask that you sign our "Scrap Health Care Reform and Start Over" petition. We'd like to gather 100,000 signatures overnight to send a message to the left, and your immediate action will help us reach this goal.
Oh and meanwhile, McCain encourages you in the same letter to make a donation to his re-election campaign.

U.S. Representative Charles Boustany will be there; he's a heart surgeon and brings a unique perspective to the negotiations but he is under no illusions:
"I'm going to go in hopeful that we can get something done but under no illusion and recognize that they are stacking the deck trying to move forward with the current proposals which the American people already largely oppose," said Boustany.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Purchase Mary Landrieu says the Republicans ... yes, the Republicans, aren't playing fair. Who says she doesn't have ... nerve?
But Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., one of those Democrats who has expressed reservations about using reconciliation for this purpose, indicated this week that she is not foreclosing going along with that option. "I'm staying open to see how these negotiations go forward," she told Politico. "I've not generally been a big supporter (of using reconciliatoin), but the Republican Party, the leadership, has really been very, very, very disingenuous in this process."
"Disingenuous"? Really, Mary? That really means something coming from you! Ouch!

All in all I'd say this could get really interesting! The pre-summit posturing is titillating enough, but tomorrow, all those big egos in one room? Oh to be a fly on the wall...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Pacific

I guess I'm slow to hear about this upcoming mini-series from HBO - The Pacific. You can be sure I'll be watching this one:

Executive produced by Tom Hanks, Stephen Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman, The Pacific is an epic ten-part miniseries. The Pacific tracks the intertwined real life stories of three U.S. Marines: Robert Leckie, John Basil0ne, and Eugene Sledge across the vast canvas of the Pacific Theater during World War II. The miniseries follows these men and their fellow Marines from their first battle with the Japanese on Guadalcanal, through the rain forests of Cape Gloucester and the strongholds of Peleliu, across the bloody sands of Iwo Jima and through the horror of Okinawa, and finally to their triumphant but uneasy return home after V-J Day.

I'm a long time fan of Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed which is one of the sources for this miniseries. I'm going to have to get busy on the other three: Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie, and Red Blood, Black Sand by Chuck Tatum, and China Marine by Eugene Sledge.

This won't be everyone's cup of tea, so to speak, but I'll be watching.



On Interrogation and Middle Ground

Marc Thiessen, author of Courting Disaster, makes a good argument in his piece in the Washington Post yesterday for finding some middle ground in the interrogation debate. Coming on the heels of reports that new al Qaeda capture Mullah Baradar may not be cooperating under interrogation by the Pakistanis as much as we had hoped, Thiessen reports that the CIA has requested Barader be transferred to US custody.

At one time that suggestion may have put substantial fear into Barader, but no more. Once Obama revealed our interrogation secrets to the enemy, there is no fear of the unknown with which to bargain.

Thiessen points out:
To be clear, Obama did not end waterboarding; it was no longer part of the formal CIA interrogation program he inherited from the Bush administration. Indeed, former CIA Director Mike Hayden says he told Obama's national security transition team, "All those things you think you need to do [on interrogation]? We already did them."
Yet Obama issued his executive order eliminating "effective interrogation techniques that no one could argue were torture: the facial hold, attention grasp, tummy slap, facial slap, a diet of liquid Ensure and mild sleep deprivation (a maximum of four consecutive days)."

His executive order demands strict adherence to The Army Field Manual thereby guaranteeing that any trained terrorist knows exactly the limits and tactics of his interrogators.

Why in the world would Barader cooperate? What's in it for him? He knows he has nothing to fear. All he has to do is sit back and wait for his attorney to come. And should Barader be transferred to US custody the attorneys will be lining up at the doors.

There is even some speculation that Barader is being treated with kid gloves by the Pakistanis. Dana Perino and Bill Burck speculated on this yesterday:
Further, the interrogation of Baradar may not be working. According to the LA Times, which based its account on sources in the Obama administration, the “joint” interrogation of Baradar by Pakistan intelligence and the CIA has not provided information that could lead to the capture of other Taliban leaders or “inform the planning of U.S. military operations.” Maybe this is because, as some have suggested, instead of breaking out the medieval torture devices, the Pakistanis are treating Baradar with kid gloves. Perhaps the Pakistanis have no real interest in gathering intelligence from Baradar. They want to use him as a bargaining chip to enhance their advantage in any post-war settlement, as we have discussed.
So what to do? Theissen suggests returning to some middle ground with regard to interrogation, a move possibly as simple as inserting "unless otherwise authorized by the president" in the original executive order which would at least serve to leave some mystery as to what detainees might expect under interrogation.

This is unlikely to happen, nor is any attempt by this administration to toughen our interrogation tactics. This administration has already proven itself more interested in seeking good will than in seeking good intelligence. It is much more important to Obama that we appear favorably in the eyes of the world as a passive nation that does not "torture" than to be a proactive nation with tough national security.

Related Posts:
Torture Memo Release - Big Mistake
Another Word on the Torture Memos

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Des Moines Register Poll - Obama Losing Independents

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers; thanks Professor Reynolds for the link!

Obama is back down to -19 in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll; the only time his rating has been lower was on December 22, 2009 when he hit -21.

Part of this trend can be attributed to Obama's continuing loss of support from independents. The Des Moines Register explored the downward spiral:

A sharp drop in approval for President Barack Obama from Iowa's political independents has pushed the Democrat's approval further below 50 percent in the state and below the national average, according to the latest Iowa Poll. Approval among Iowa independents has dropped 10 percentage points since November, to 38 percent.


It is quite a shift from his position in November:

Forty-six percent of Iowans approve of Obama's handling of his job, according to the poll taken Jan. 31 to Feb. 3. That's down from 49 percent in November. It is also 22 percentage points lower than Obama's Iowa approval of 68 percent around his inauguration last year.

And on domestic issues:

In Iowa, views of Obama's handling of key domestic issues remain a problem for him. No more than 40 percent of Iowans approve of his performance on the economy, health care and the budget deficit, although the rates are essentially unchanged since the Register's last poll, taken in November. What has changed: The fractions of independents who support Obama's handling of all three of these issues have shrunk in the past three months.

Not so good.

The comments that follow the Register's article are particularly entertaining. A sampling (names removed):

It took a poll to tell you this?


I agree with that one!

I switched to Independent when the Republicans went squishy as compassionate conservative. When a party and it's [sic] candidates get serious about significantly shrinking the size, scope and power of federal government I'll support it and them.


I think that's why some folks are looking at The Tea Party as a third party or registering as Conservative. So many people are just sick of both major parties.

Independents are pulling away from Obama and the democrats just like they pulled away from the republicans and for the same reasons. Party politics and special interests both subscribe to the theory that enough money will purchase any election. Maybe they are going to learn that money is not necessarily votes. Independents are not allowed to participate in the selection of party candidates but they can and do pick the elected official. They are the votes that swing the election. So Dems and Reps if you want to win and keep it get off your far left and far right positions and run a moderate candidate.


Some folks are slow learners, fella. Don't get your hopes up.

It is quite embarrassing that Iowans are perhaps responsible for electing Obama to the presidency. I implored my fellow Iowans to look beyond flowery speeches devoid of substantive content. I will always believe that Hillary was the smart choice despite the media's brutal attacks upon her. Unfortunately we will have the choice of Obama or probably an extreme right winger in 2012. Here is hope that the Republicans or moderate minded independents will deliver a candidate that is a real alternative to Obama that common sense moderates can support-- someone who does not just talk about hope and change but can deliver change.
Another one looking for a moderate.

Oh and one more:

Obama is failing because he thinks we need to be herded not heard.

There are about 217 comments on that article when I last checked. It's interesting to see what Iowa voters are thinking right about now. I sifted through a large number of them - a lot of it is snarking back and forth, as one might expect in such an open forum, but many of those who left comments are looking for a true moderate, which is what, it seems, that they thought Obama would be.

He isn't.

(Graphic: The Des Moines Register)

Nebraska Snow Pictures

I asked faithful reader Trish to send me pictures of her Nebraska snow. WOW! Did she send pictures! This Louisiana girl has never seen so much snow! Just beautiful!


Thanks for sharing, Trish!

On The Friday News Dump Clearing Yoo and Bybee

Don't miss this WSJ editorial "Vindicating John Yoo" in response to the Friday news dump that both Yoo and Bybee are cleared of wrongdoing.

Dana Perino and Bill Burck also have a response at The Corner:

We don’t mean to be insulting, but the plain fact is that OPR is not, and has never been, equipped to second-guess OLC. The office’s role is a limited one focused on ethical violations; it is not staffed with experts on constitutional law or national security. It would be preposterous to rely on OPR’s judgment about hard questions of constitutional and statutory law over that of OLC or the Solicitor General’s Office. As Andy McCarthy has said, “having OPR grade the scholarship of OLC is like having the Double-A batting coach critique Derek Jeter’s swing.”

Exactly.

Obama's Health Care Plan

I have such a feeling of dread over this upcoming health care summit that is to be televised this week. Why do I have the feeling that we're walking into a massacre?

Politico has the story this morning which, basically, the short version is that Obama has his plan ready and if the Republicans don't go along with it, he'll just push it through with reconciliation and call the Republicans obstructionists.

This plan is supposedly not exactly like either of the two plans we have before us right now in the House and Senate, but one of Obama's crafting. This does nothing to alleviate my sense of doom:

And yet Obama is unveiling a health care bill just days before the six-hour summit that wouldn’t require a single GOP vote, with plans to short-circuit the Senate rules and push it through without Republicans if necessary.

One of the proposals Obama is expected to make is to prevent arbitrary rake hikes by insurance companies such as Anthem Blue Cross in California. This is, of course, more government regulation in private industry which is not where Americans need to go. Granted, nobody wants their insurance rates to go up, but for the government to forbid it will only serve to, in the long run, force those companies to go out of business. Which is, of course, likely part of the long plan.

You can read Obama's plan here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More Iowa Snow Pictures

Steve's family sends snow snapshots; the first two are in south central Iowa and the last one is Clear Lake. Now THAT'S some snow! In Clear Lake, they're running out of places to put the stuff; the snow blowers can't blow it over the drifts.




Related:
Spring in Louisiana, Winter in Iowa (Feb. 20, 2010)
More Iowa Snow Pictures (Jan. 7, 2010)
Snow (Jan. 4, 2010)

Colin Powell Still Stands With Obama

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was on Face the Nation this morning expressing his continuing support for Barack Obama. Powell, as you recall, endorsed and voted for Obama and stands by that decision today.

From Powell's perspective, the problem with this administration lies not in the fact that the message or policy is wrong, but that the American people are to dense to understand it:
Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell said Sunday he had no regrets about endorsing Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, but that the president "put too much on the plate for the American people to absorb at this time."
We can only focus on one thing at a time, you see.

When asked if Washington is "broken," Powell said it's not broken but it isn't functioning very well:
"In some ways the government is functioning. It's doing what it's supposed to do, but not well enough. The American people, I think, see the extreme positions being taken, too left on the Democratic side, too far right on the Republican side, the Tea Party movement is also now become a force in American politics. Of course, you've got the overhang of cable television and the Internet, all of which heightens tension and makes it harder and harder for our political leaders in the Senate or in the Congress to quietly make the compromises that are necessary."
It seems as if Powell thinks television and the Internet are hindrances to good government, but thank goodness for them both because where would we be now without them? I don't think the American people really want Congress to "quietly make the compromises that are necessary." To many Americans that simply means "backroom deals" like Mary Landrieu's Louisiana Purchase.

Granted, some compromises have to be made, but by both sides. And sometimes there is no compromise to be found. One should not be expected to compromise their principles or values. We are taught to stand up for what's "right."

Powell did say one thing that I agree with:
"[Americans are] looking for leaders in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in the House and Senate to start finding ways to compromise and get the country moving and not just scream at each other."
I do think people are tired of the bickering, but that's just politics. That's how it's always been and always will be when you have differing opinions. People feel strongly about the health care issue, for example, and it's safe to say that there may not be a lot of compromise to be made on that issue. Certainly there is some, but many people don't feel the need to compromise their feelings on, say, abortion for example. It's not helpful to "scream at each other" either.

But when Democrats, Harry Reid, wave the heavy stick and say either pass health care the way we want it or we'll just push it through with reconciliation, how can one expect there not be a howl of indignation from the other side? Is THAT compromise?

Powell invoked the Founding Fathers in his appearance today and pointed out that even they had to compromise when writing the Constitution. But they didn't have Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to deal with.

And I guess as Powell sees it, they didn't have the Internet and cable TV either. But somehow I just can't believe we'd be better off right now without it!

No Spin Forthcoming on Dalai Lama Meeting

When I posted on Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama last week I was hoping that a reasonable explanation (or spin) would come as to why the only photograph of the meeting was of the Dalai Lama exiting the White House via a service entrance past piles of garbage.

My optimism was misplaced. There is, apparently, no explanation to come. It is, as they say, what it is.

Kelly Currie at The Weekly Standard summarizes the whole affair and things are just as they seemed in the photo. Well, except they might actually be worse. There was an official photograph taken of the meeting, but it was released on the White House Flickr page, sandwiched in between a photo of Obama walking through the press office and a photo of Obama looking bored in a meeting. The meeting took place in The Map Room rather than the Oval Office, and there was no joint public appearance.

As Currie says, "...the White House managed to turn what should have been a moment of celebration for the Dalai Lama's supporters in the United States and worldwide into a stunning display of disrespect."

I don't suppose we should be surprised; after all, it's the way Obama has treated most of the foreign dignitaries and allies. I'd rather he not have met with the Dalai Lama at all than to have so embarrassed us once again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring in Louisiana, Winter in Iowa

Steve's sister writes from Iowa that they are expecting another 6 to 12 inches of snow today. This was the view from her window before the snow started today. This is what she looked outside and saw, and then thought, "Hey! I think we can get to the store today!"

I think it's beautiful but I know they are sick of it.

For my part, I dutifully mulched and bagged as many leaves as I could. I mowed (weeds mostly), edged, and fired up the blower. I replaced all the burned out light bulbs outside. I pruned a gardenia bush that didn't fare so well over winter.

The daffodils are showing color - they'll be blooming in a few days. My hydrangeas have tiny green leaves poking from the stems. Spring is coming!

Take heart, Sheryl! It will get to Iowa soon!

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Spring Fever Edition

I'm getting spring fever. I know it isn't even March yet, but I'm anxious to get out in the yard and start clearing away the debris of winter. Leaves, sticks, dead things. That's my plan for this morning, anyway. It's supposed to rain later this afternoon and tomorrow, so I'm on a time crunch! Lets get right to the links!

First of all, Potluck. This will be a blog you'll want to check often through the day. It's the brainchild of Jill, aka Pundette, and there are now 11 authors on board with a few more in the chute. We're looking forward to growing and evolving over there and engaging in some good conversation. Fuzzy Logic has more on the birth of Potluck.

Fishersville Mike is flashing back to the 70s.

Legal Insurrection has the latest on Obama's declaration of legislative war and the Feb. 25 health care "negotiation" between parties. (It was hard to type that word "negotiation" in that sentence with a straight face.) Ruby Slippers believes the White House is simply "pathological" at this point about passing health care reform.

Stacy and Smitty have been doing some awesome coverage of CPAC. Bob Belvedere sums things up. Little Miss Attila is there, too, and has some thoughts on the acquisition of Hot Air.

Coffee Milk Conservative has a crazy post about DHS and their inability to keep up with their ... stuff. It's also cross posted at Potluck.

You know I love SWAC Girl's snow pictures! Today - wild turkey tracks!

Bride of Rove takes note of Seth MacFarlane and Bill Mahar and their inappropriate humor.

Pundette posts on Obama campaigning for Harry Reid on your taxpayer dime. No Sheeples Here is more to the point - vote buying!

American Power reviews The Hurt Locker, which I still haven't seen.

The Sundries Shack has video of Ed Morrissey at CPAC and his award.

Backyard Conservative is developing an appreciation for...curling? An intervention may be next.

Left Coast Rebel makes note of Sean Penn's Las Vegas arrest. What happens in Vegas....

Political Junkie Mom wonders if it's just time times in which we live that the president is actually writing legislation.

The Daley Gator has a photo of a house that a guy bulldozed to keep the bank from foreclosing on him. Well, I guess that's one way.

Carol's Closet has the video of Marco Rubio's CPAC address; I love this guy!

Troglopundit had a birthday this week!

Wyblog posts a graphic of Obama from Time Magazine and then deals with the critics.

Caught Him With a Corndog has been following and posting on the Austin plane crash story.

Okay, that'll be it for now. I've got leaves beckoning outside and clouds looming. Have a wonderful Saturday and I'll catch up with you later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On Books, Trash and the Dalai Lama

What is wrong with THIS picture? I mean, seriously? It just seems to me there is bound to be some logical explanation for this, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it might be. Why in the world would one send the Dalai Lama out the back door with the trash bags unless you just have no class whatsoever. Oh, wait...

Earlier this week when the brouhaha broke out about books on Socialism in the library at The White House I was puzzled over why that was a big deal; apparently the rumor was that *gasp* Michelle Obama had selected all the books and she favors works on socialism. Well, I read a lot of stuff that I don't necessarily advocate or practice, so this didn't seem a logical conclusion to me. As it turns out, those books have been in the library of The White House since 1963:

The library came into being during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy asked Yale University librarian James T. Babb to oversee a committee that would select books for the library. In 1963, 1,780 were placed on the shelves.

"The White House library is a reference and recreational library for the use of the President, his family, and official staff," wrote Babb in the forward to "The White House Library: A Short Title List," a document from the White House Historical Association.

"It is intended to contain books which best represent the history and culture of the United States, works most essential for an understanding of our national experience. The collection has to be strictly limited because the attractive library on the ground floor of the White House has shelf space for only twenty-five hundred volumes. Authors, with few exceptions, are citizens of the United States; fiction and poetry by deceased writers only have been included."

"The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912" by Ira Kinnis and "The Socialist Party of America" by David Shannon are included on that original list of books, along with books about the two national parties, communism and still others about socialism.

My point is, there was a logical explanation.

So what's the logical explanation for sending the Dalai Lama out with the trash? I can't wait to hear this one. I'm sure the spin is coming!

Potluck

Okay, the secret is out: there's a new blog on the block.

Check out Potluck, a group blog with some familiar names! We're a work in progress so bear with us as we grow and settle into our new digs. Jill/Pundette has broken the ice with an initial post and we'll all fall into line shortly. It's sure to be fascinating stuff!

And hey, add us to your blogroll, too!

Why Isn't This Conflict of Interest and Improper?

Dan Foster at The Corner points to Byron York's story in The Washington Examiner regarding the question posed to Holder by Senator Grassley last November about Justice Department attorneys representing Gitmo detainees. Turns out there are a few:

At least nine Obama appointees at the Justice Department have represented or written amicus briefs in support of terrorist detainees, according to Attorney General Eric Holder. At least two of the lawyers continue to work on detainee policy.

Now, could some legal mind (Professor Jacobson, are you there?) explain to me why this isn't conflict of interest?

Rumors

Carol at Carol's Closet is chasing down rumors:

I heard it through the grapevine that a group of fabulous female bloggers are joining forces to form a new blog. I don't have any details yet but I suspect that Pundette may somehow be involved. So far she's being very closed mouth about it but Pundette did mention that Pat might know the scoop. Pat claimed she didn't know anything about it but I have the feeling she knows more than she's telling. Anyway, Obi's Sister said she spoke to a Backyard Conservative who saw Ruby Slippers over at Adrienne's Corner talking Fuzzy Logic to a Politicaljunkie Mom while a Coffee Milk Conservative pretended not to notice. We all know what that means. Well, if I were one to gossip, which obviously I'm not, I would say they are all up to something.

Up to something? Now ... what could that be? Me? Up to something? Pundette? We're just bloggers. What could WE be up to?

Quote of the Day

It turned out that the country’s problems were not problems of structure but of leadership. Reagan and Clinton had it. Carter didn’t. Under a president with extensive executive experience, good political skills, and an ideological compass in tune with the public’s, the country was indeed governable.

Charles Krauthammer

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Experiement with the Kindle

Shhhhhhhhhh! Don't tell Bride of Rove, but I've downloaded the Kindle app for my iPhone and I'm giving it a shot.

The app is free - why would I buy a $300 device?

She's an ardent supporter of the e-book, and I've griped and moaned about them for a long time now. Bride has kindly not told me to shut up until I've tried it - she's too nice for that. She did suggest that I don't know what I'm missing. And my own good conscience says I should give it a try before I knock it.

I can see the benefits in e-books to some degree. Portability. And it's true - you don't want to keep ALL your books. It's cheaper than real books. It's spontaneous - you can download a book on a whim.

My first e-book is one that I know I don't want to treasure later and keep on the shelf for reference. I'll never be able to Kindle those. (Is "kindle" a verb now? I mean, "Facebooked" is a verb now, so why not "kindle"?)

Anyway, my first e-book is Sue Grafton's "U" is for Undertow. I've read all the others and hate to bail on her before I get to the end of the alphabet, although Kinsey is stuck in the eighties.

I'll report back and let you know how my experiment turns out.

Marco at CPAC

I wish I could be at CPAC today to hear Marco Rubio! Heck, I wish I could be at CPAC anyway, but Rubio would be a bonus. When I first put my donation button on my sidebar last year, its original caption was "Send me to CPAC!" but nobody took me up on the offer. Now that it says "Buy me a beer!" I do a little better.

Many of my blogging buddies are headed to CPAC and I look forward to their reports; I know Stacy McCain will be there with Da Tech Guy...what could go wrong? Keep an eye on their blogs for updates.

Politico has a report on Rubio today and his appearance at CPAC noting that this will be a sort of national introduction of Rubio to many conservatives outside of Florida. Rubio has come from behind to lead Crist in the polls now in their Florida Senate race and I don't think Rubio is satisfied with his lead. I think before the election arrives Rubio will leave Crist far behind, especially if the only bang in Crist's bag is this tactic:

Crist’s campaign, which has derided Rubio as a shallow former pol who ducks discussions about the less flattering aspects of his record, isn’t shying away from attacking Rubio during his moment in the national conservative spotlight.

On Wednesday, the Crist campaign released a mock draft of Rubio’s speech.

“Since my campaign began, I’ve had the privilege of becoming the latest cover boy,” reads the fake speech. “I’m thrilled many of you don’t know me or what I’ve done during my 8 years in Tallahassee. My record is irrelevant in this campaign. My previous statements and actions serve no purpose in this campaign.”

Marco Rubio, a rising star in conservative Republican circles, said he sees the exploding "tea party" movement as a political energy source to be tapped, not a political party to be led. Mr. Rubio's underdog race for the Senate against Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida's Republican primary has become a rallying point for conservatives nationwide.

He has been called the potential first "tea party senator," but he's quick to note that the anti-big-government movement is a symbol of mounting voter frustration with the records of both major parties in Washington.

I really wish I could be at CPAC to hear his speech! Is it streaming anywhere today? If you know, leave me a comment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Jindal Running in 2012?

So it seems Bobby Jindal has a book coming out this summer which prompts Marc Ambinder to wonder if he's running for President. He cites Huckabee, Romney and Palin as precedent, and supposedly one could also include Obama in that list:

Writing a book seems to be the mark of presidential ambitions--Romney, Palin, and Mike Huckabee have all published and toured to promote books in the last year--and it will be interesting to see just how much policy is included in this book, and whether or not his publicity rollout constitutes an aggressive move back onto the national political scene.

I think the logic reaches a little far. Lots of people have published books that aren't running for President.

Jindal's book is already up at Amazon even though it isn't coming out until July 2010. The blurb says:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is not only a rising star in the GOP but has been touted as the future face of the Republican Party. In his new book, Jindal tells his own inspiring story and reveals his plan for putting conservatives and America back on solid ground. Blending his personal story, including his conversion to Christianity and his unprecedented political career, with an account of his local and national governmental successes, Jindal offers a bold vision for renewing the GOP and our nation. From health care and national debt to how we can fundamentally transform Washington, Jindal tackles controversial issues and offers fresh solutions. Insightful and inspiring, On Solid Ground provides the leadership voice Republicans seek and the guidance America needs.

You'll find lots of people in Louisiana who are not sold on Bobby Jindal. Moon Griffon, who hosts a radio program broadcast throughout the state, refers to Jindal as "Campaign Bobby" because he's perpetually campaigning and off raising funds somewhere. Griffon takes issue with Jindal as well because Jindal won't appear on Moon's program anymore to answer questions.

Louisiana pundit C.B. Forgotston isn't a fan either.

I could be dead wrong, but I don't see Jindal running in 2012.

And you know what? I'm not really interested in reading his book, either.

(H/T: The Dead Pelican)

Wednesday Thoughts

Light blogging today: my classes are working in the library on research papers.

Imagine my shock when I discovered (yesterday!) that the new MLA guidelines have changed almost everything about documentation for research papers! No more underlining! No more URLs! And now you must indicate the medium of your reference - print, electronic, etc.

This will send my set-in-his-ways Senior English teacher into apoplexy.

Ah well. That aside, I'm also kind of tied up on a new project and learning a new medium. More on that later.

I do have a couple of quick read links for you this morning. Over at Commentary Magazine Sam Sacks has reviewed Stephen King's Under the Dome, and well, Stephen King's writing in general. I haven't read the latest novel yet but it's holding my desk down (it's a huge book) waiting on me to get to it.

I'm of mixed feelings about Stephen King. I've been reading him for over thirty years and I've seen his work evolve and go up and down. I use some passages from his On Writing in my creative writing class. Say what you will about his ability, the man has been successful.

As long as you're over at Commentary, check out Jennifer Rubin's response to the newest Obama envoy to the Muslim world here. The original Fox Story to which she refers is here. I suspect this fellow will be the next man in Glenn Beck's radar. But Rubin raises a valid point: why do we need an envoy to the Muslim world, anyway? Do we have one for the Jewish world? The Hindu world? The Christian world?

There's a developing thread on the story at Memeorandum you can keep an eye on and see who else weighs in.

With that, I'm off to teach tenth graders how to do research and to properly document sources in the ever changing world of the Modern Language Association.

I'll check back in on you good folks later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dog Show - Night Two

Tonight is the second night of The Westminster Dog Show.

Last night's winners included this French Bulldog in the non-sporting group (close to my heart because my dog is a Frenchie/Boston Terrier Mix) and in the Hounds group it was the Whippet. An old poodle won the toy group, (apologies to poodle lovers, but I'm not one of 'em) and a Puli won the Herding group. The Puli is one of those dogs that looks like a mop - adorable!

Liz Cheney and the Taliban Capture

Liz Cheney responds to the capture of the Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar:



It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds with regard to the interrogation issue. Many have weighed in on this story already and at this point there isn't much I can add. I do, however, see this as good news although, like Cheney, I'm suspicious of NYT releasing the story, even though, as the Times says, the news was already all over Pakistan and not really a secret any more.

The good news here, besides the actual capture, would probably be that Pakistan is involved in all this because without them, this guy might have just been shot without benefit of interrogation. We no longer have a CIA program to interrogate him, or a place to detain him, so it would have to be the Pakistanis who field the catch here.

Here is a profile of Barader.

Updates later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Dog Show

Well I was going to try to watch some of the Winter Olympics this year, but heck -The Westminster Dog Show is on tonight!

For a proper perspective, check out this article on why the dog show is better, for example:

Beagles. Beagles make everything better. They swagger around the dog show ring with a merry attitude, as if they just successfully stole the poodle’s food. They don’t usually do well at big shows, because judges prefer breeds whose hair can be styled. But Uno the beagle won Westminster in 2008, and he remains the most popular champion in the show’s history.

Yeah. I'll be watching the dogs! And I'm not pulling for ANY poodles!

"Just Shoot the Bastard"

I'm slow to this story from The Washington Post but I did want to just make note of it here. The story, of course, is about the Obama strategy to just kill terrorists now instead of capture them. Marc Theissen sums it up perfectly at The Corner:

The Post tells the story of a senior leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa named Saleh Ali Nabhan who was located last September. The White House was given the choice of either killing him or capturing him alive for interrogation. The military wanted to take him alive. But the White House chose instead to take him out. A senior military officer is quoted as saying: "We wanted to take a prisoner. . . . It was not a decision that we made." The Post adds: "The opportunity to interrogate one of the most wanted U.S. terrorism targets was gone forever."

You can read the entire Post article here.

Theissen's analogy to a jigsaw puzzle is spot on. Actually, I guess it's Michael Hayden's analogy, but Theissen reports it in Courting Disaster:

In the book, former CIA director Mike Hayden explains that intelligence is having to put together a puzzle without being allowed to see the picture on the cover of the box. You can't see how the pieces are supposed to fit together. There are lots of ways to get more pieces. But the only way to find out how they fit together is to capture the senior leaders who know what the picture on the cover of the box looks like.

So these days we are left with little random pieces of stuff and no way of knowing how to put it together. Case in point - Abdulmutallab. We never even attempted to put him together with the other pieces because no other agencies were called in for information when we questioned him.

Theissen explains the interrogation process at Gitmo, for example, in his book. Under questioning, you might obtain a bit of information from a detainee. He gives up a name, for example, or a part of a story you heard from another detainee under questioning, also at Gitmo. You go back and forth between the two, or three, or however many you are talking to, and work the pieces around until they fit into the right places. Then you have the bigger picture. Quite possibly a big picture than none of them actually had in its entirely, but one that you now hold because you have all the pieces.

That will no longer be the case. Under Obama's plan we will have no prison in which to take them and no way to question them because they'll likely get Mirandized.

And now, we just shoot them. Much easier than dealing with the lawyers, the human rights issues, the prisons, and the bad publicity. Never mind obtaining information that could stop future attacks and save lives.

Is it their intention to just kill them all? Their heads will continue to grow back like a Hydra. Have they not considered the better plan might be to find out what they know?

As Ed Morrissey sums it up:

We could restore the ability to get that kind of intel if we just admitted we need Gitmo to remain open. The goal in the war on terror is to dismantle the al-Qaeda network and stamp out the ability of radical Islamists to conduct major terrorist operations against the US and our allies, not to kill terrorists one at a time and then try to go after their replacements.

(More at Memeorandum)